8 emerging K-12 classroom trends

Today’s educators are preparing students for jobs of the future–jobs that don’t necessarily exist today–and a new Google Education report takes a look at the K-12 classroom trends driving learning.

More and more educators and parents recognize that curriculum must evolve in order to help students develop the skills they’ll need to be successful in future careers and in a global workforce.

Related content: How we created the classroom of the future

Those skills aren’t limited to technology skills. More than ever, students need what many are now calling “employability” skills–critical thinking, problem solving, and collaboration skills, to name just a few.

To better understand these changes, Google for Education partnered with a global team of researchers and analysts to examine evidence-based classroom trends and shifts in education.

The report identifies eight emerging trends in classrooms:

Digital responsibility: Parents and guardians want schools to help students develop healthy relationships with technology and be safe, confident explorers of the digital world.

Part of what drives this is the fact that children are online at much younger ages–research notes that people under 18 account for roughly 1 in 3 internet users across the world, and in the U.S., more than 39 percent of young people had a social media account by age 12.

Life skills & workforce preparation: To prepare for future careers, students need a holistic education that includes practical vocational skills, communication strategies, and leadership development.

More value is placed on employability skills–often called soft skills, but the name belies their importance. Academic success is no longer the only way to prepare students for future success. Emotional intelligence, practical vocational skills, and skills such as critical thinking and the ability to collaborate with others from different backgrounds are becoming equally important.

Computational thinking: Curriculum focused on problem-solving, coding, and STEM subjects helps prepare students to address future challenges.

Ninety-two percent of the world’s future jobs will require digital skills, and 45 percent of future jobs will require workers who are able to work confidently with digital systems and technology.

Student-led learning: Education leaders want students to have more agency over their education, from what they learn to how the classroom operates.

Students will need to be able to transition from school to the outside world, and student-led learning is one path that helps strengthen students.

Collaborative classrooms: As schools focus on openness, flexibility, and collaboration, they’re redesigning classrooms to match.

Classroom design can have a major impact on student learning–some research suggests it can impact academic progress by up to 25 percent. What’s more, students learning in open, innovative environments can pick up new ways to think, learn, and collaborate.

Connecting guardians & schools: Parents and guardians want to be more involved in their children’s education, and technology is being used as a tool to connect them with educators.

Parents want to connect with their children’s teachers, but when adults are working outside of the home, connection becomes a bit more challenging. In the U.S., 76 percent of teachers and administrators say technology is important in engaging with parents about their child’s school performance.

Innovating pedagogy: Motivated teachers have more engaged classes, and streamlining administrative tasks can help them focus more time on teaching.

Technology is a great tool to streamline tasks, help with grading, and enable pedagogical innovation–important steps to help alleviate some of the stress teachers feel each day.

Emerging technologies: Schools are incorporating emerging technologies into the classroom to enable more innovative and engaging teaching methods and learning experiences.

AI, VR, and AR are much more common in our everyday lives. Ninety-one percent of children ages 4-11 have access to a smart assistant. As people recognize how technology can create engaging experiences in the classroom, educators are working to incorporate these technologies effectively in an way that augments high-quality instruction.

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